This was our first experience on a very large ship and we were attracted to the variety of offerings it had for children. I didn't quite appreciate that the volume of people onboard would feel so apparent. Almost everywhere you went there were crowds, lines and bustling activity. The interior/decor was nice but not luxurious. Our ports of call were Tortola, St. Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay. All were good, but the schedule in St. Thomas had us leaving at 2pm which was too soon and meant we couldn't do many activities on that island.
-The ship does offer a lot. There are many restaurants/bars/entertainers/areas of the ship. By the end of 1 week you still feel like you haven't spent much time in many areas.
-Entertainment was amazing, especially Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Best show we've ever seen at sea.
-Plenty of deck chairs/space. Even in the shade we were able to get chairs without too much trouble. Plenty of people meant chairs were frequently opening-up throughout the day. There are quiet and loud areas, but all the quiet areas are in full sun.
-Splash Academy: my kids love this! The staff and activities were excellent! I could not cruise without this program. Period.
-Bars: lots of great options, hardworking staff. Beverage package makes this easy.
-Embarkation/debarkation - very smooth and hassle-free
-Waterslides/pool - generally good but also very crowded
-Food in the free restaurants was good
-Glow/White-hot party, ship activities and games were all fun. More of these on the top decks would have been nice.
-Nightlife, this is the 1st ship we've been on where there is actually fun entertainment later into the evening and it doesn't feel dead.
-Service in the restaurants was very slow in all areas, both the amount of time it took to order drinks & food and for the food to actually arrive
-Extreme business of the staff, especially at restaurants/bars really reduced your interaction with them. We didn't get to know the staff like we have in previous cruises.
-Lines/crowds for popular entertainers, such as dueling pianos, comedians, Beatles cover band, made it impossible to find seats or even see what was happening. You had to plan ahead and wait for venues to open to ensure a seat.
-Having to walk through a smoky casino to a restaurant or through the smoky H2O bar to the sports deck isn't ideal when with children
-The whole H2O/adults-only area felt underutilized. It's a big outdoor space that essentially served as a smoking section.
-Billing/tracking of onboard credits is sketchy. This is the 2nd Norwegian cruise in a row where they've messed-up our final bill. Make sure you have details of credits in writing.
Overall our trip was a lot of fun and we had a good time. I think Norwegian does a very nice job and I would continue to sail with them. I wouldn't rush back to the Epic or to any other mega ship now that I know what they feel like. But if you do want to sail on a large ship and you're not looking for a quiet experience, I think the Epic provides good value and a fun atmosphere.